Looking for Robb Report UK? Click here to visit our UK site.

A ‘Possibly Unique’ Patek Philippe Just Blew Through Auction Estimates to Fetch a Record $2.5 Million

Ref. 3974 realized a staggering $2.5 million at Phillips over the weekend.

Possibly Unique Patek Philippe Ref. 3974 Phillips

A possibly unique Patek Philippe just became impossibly pricey.

The timepiece in question, known as Ref. 3974, sparked a bidding war between 20 collectors at the Phillips Hong Kong watch auction over the weekend, before hammering for a hefty $2.5 million. That’s three times the pre-sale high estimate of $829,000 and a new world record for the reference.

Launched in 1989, Ref. 3974 was considered the most technically sophisticated watch of the time. The self-winding wristwatch is equipped with a minute repeater, a perpetual calendar, 24-hour indication and phases of the moon. It’s exceedingly rare, too, with only around 16 made in total.

Possibly Unique Patek Philippe Ref. 3974

The Patek Philippe Ref. 3974 sold for $2.5 million.  Phillips

Rarer still is this particular example. Billed as “possibly” one-of-a-kind by the auction house, it sports a yellow-gold case crafted by legendary casemaker Jean-Pierre Hagmann. It’s also been extensively customized by the Swiss watchmaker. The black lacquer dial, for instance, features a Calatrava Cross, italicized calendar indications and gold Breguet numerals to match the case.

Patek Philippe Ref. 5723

The Patek Philippe Ref. 5723 sold for $1.45 million.  Phillips

This wasn’t the only record-breaking Patek at the auction, either. A Nautilus Ref. 5723 with the prestigious double stamp by Tiffany & Co. and 4 carats worth of rubies sold for $1.45 million to set a new world record for the model in gold. It’s also the second-highest price ever paid for any Nautilus. (Top place, of course, belongs to a Nautilus Ref. 5711 with the coveted Tiffany Blue dial, which sold for $5.35 million at Phillips New York last December.)

Kari Voutilainen's Vingt-8 Hisui

Kari Voutilainen’s Vingt-8 Hisui sold for $561,834.  Phillips

A number of pieces by independent watchmakers also exceeded their high estimates. The singular Vingt-8 Hisui by Kari Voutilainen, for example, achieved $561,834. That’s more than double what was expected and the highest price paid for a Voutilainen timepiece without complications.

The sale itself, which attracted some 1,900 bidders from across 62 different countries, pulled in a record $33.6 million across May 27 and 28.

“The two-day auction achieved the highest result for a various owner watches auction in Asia in history, and once again reaffirms collectors’ appetite and enthusiasm for seeking top-quality timepieces,” Thomas Perazzi, head of watches, Asia, said in a statement.


More Watch Collector